“It is as though I have traveled back in time, to the very edge of the universe, where the earth, still in its most primordial stage, sputters and bubbles and spews out the very origins of life” writes the female protagonist Alexandria Bartram to her mother in the book “Letters from Yellowstone” about the Yellowstone National Park. It is late 1800s and Miss Bartram is on an expedition with Professor Merriam and a bunch of scientists to discover and catalog the plant species that grow in the park region. Her description of the park is apt even today. The earth still sputters and bubbles but we know now that it is because the Yellowstone sits on an active Volcano. We were there last month.
“Letters from Yellowstone” is a book completely in the form of letters written by the scientists to their friends and families.For me it was about one woman’s journey into the heart of Yellowstone in pursuit of her passion for the field of botany. She is too scientifically-inclined, using the scientific name “corvus corax” instead of the more common “crow”, addressing her colleague’s pet. Her interaction with the soft-spoken erudite Professor Merriam and the Indian named Joseph Not-afraid at the Yellowstone opens her mind to a world beyond science where nature is not just studied but worshiped. `
In an era when women were considered mere objects of beauty our Miss Bartram paves her own way and finds her true calling. The story of a woman taking charge of her own life in a wild backdrop provided by my favorite Yellowstone National Park was a delicious read. As I read about how she would come across a rare species of plant and paint its likeness down to the fine hair on its stem, I realized how much I love science and research myself. I don’t think I can ever become a scientist but a learner I will always be. I consider myself a student of and for life!
“I want to match the best I have against the best the world has to offer before it is gone.”
-” Letters From Yellowstone” by Diane Smith.